Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have proven to be an extremely useful tool across multiple industries and CRM software is now an essential component of a modern fundraising and donor management team.
But when choosing a donor database for your charity, it can be tempting to look at the headline features and price of Sales CRMs like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics and think they’ll fit for your charity,
But commercial CRM tools, such as the big platform-based solutions like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, were designed to support the sales processes of for-profit businesses, and weren’t designed with not-for-profit organisations in mind.
When it comes to charities and nonprofits, these organisations have completely different requirements, such as income management, HMRC integrations and online fundraising tools like JustGiving, to name just a few.
This means that however generous the costs of commercial CRM tools seem for charities, and how attractive their ever-expanding feature list is, you're going to have to invest in adding various packs, modules, code and apps to achieve the same thing.
Simply put: traditional sales CRMs are not ready-made for fundraising organisations. You need fundraising software and a donor management CRM instead.
Here are some of the reasons why commercial customer relationship management tools don’t make sense for small charities - and a few alternatives to keep in mind.
1. Fit for purpose
Commercial sales CRMs are designed for B2B relationships, which is reflected in the design of the product. When it comes to charities and nonprofits, these organisations have a rather diverse support base and maintain relationships with their subjects that are generally referred to as constituents.
In a traditional sales CRM, the contacts (people) have to belong to an account (a business). This means if a nonprofit organisation has 10,000 members, a sales CRM needs 10,000 accounts, each accommodating 1 contact. This complicates the solution immediately.
Donorfy is designed to meet the needs of charities and nonprofits, so instead of contacts and accounts it works with constituents - which can be both people or organisations. They are of equal 'weight', and can also be connected to represent people in organisations. This makes it a more natural fit than a sales CRM, and easier to use.
2. The risk factor
- Cost: Commercial sales CRMs need a lot of work to get it do the basic functionality of nonprofits. Charities have completely different requirements, such as tax reporting or the tracking of non-financial support like petitions, a feature that has to be added by consultants whose time can be rather expensive. Traditional sales CRMs also don't include financial data or processes, as this is done by accounting systems in the B2B world.
Time: Donorfy is purpose-built for non-profits and requires relatively little setup to suit their needs. It is flexible and can be extended but most of what charities and non-profits require is available right "out of the box".
Support: After all the customisation work there is only one organisation (and usually one person) that can support a solution based on a sales CRM, which is a huge risk and more expensive to deliver.
Upgrades: With heavily customised solutions, upgrades can be expensive because of the need to re-apply the custom code each time. Donorfy’s upgrades are included and automated so there is no downtime, no loss of functionality and no extra costs.
Charities using a sales CRM, like Salesforce, are in the minority of the customer base and so unlikely to influence product development for nonprofit-specific features.
At Donorfy, our main focus is to help nonprofits become more successful by adding new features and integrations that meet their needs. This means your ROI improves as you have an evolving platform without having to pay for each new development you need.
Donorfy is ready-made for charities and nonprofits, which means you don't have to spend any money getting it do the basic charity functionality.
Donorfy’s charity-specific features include:
Online donation tools
Constituent management for B2C and B2B scenarios
Truly integratable with a published REST API which means you can integrate with most app, if you like
Self-service preference centre for GDPR compliance, including setting preferences and consents
4. Free software and add-ons
What about the free software? Some sales CRM companies provide a certain amount of product free of charge to NGOs. This is attractive until you factor in the costs described above.
What about the huge app stores? Yes, there are thousands of apps that you can plug into Salesforce, and other sales CRMs. However, Donorfy is truly integratable solution, with a published REST API which means you can integrate with most of those apps, if you want.